Spirits were high over the weekend at Boston Common, where thousands attended the 25th Annual Boston Freedom Rally, which calls for the legalization of marijuana.
In December, the city's Parks and Recreation Commission voted to ban the smoking of tobacco, marijuana and vaporized substances in its more than 250 parks, squares, cemeteries and beaches - including The Common.
But on Sunday it seemed the ban had little to no effect on the smoke-friendly event, despite the threat of a $250 smoking fine. Patrol officers meandered peacefully through crowds emitting that unmistakable fragrance, and rallygoers made no attempt to hide their blazing ways as they lit up bongs, pipes, chillums, and joints of all shapes and sizes.
"I heard about [the smoking ban], and it's not going to stop me. I think that's outrageous," said Andrew, 24, who declined to give his last name as he puffed on a thick blunt. "The country was founded on the tobacco plant, and the fact that they're slowly trying to outlaw it; I think it's ridiculous. It's crazy."
The prohibition's goal is to reduce the threat of second hand smoke inhalation and cigarette litter, and also strives dissuade young people from picking up the habit, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.
Longtime rallygoer Chris, 24, said he is drawn to the hemp festival because, "Where else can you smoke pot in front of cops?" His friend Stepfani, 24, said officers were keeping their distance from attendees.
"It's been pretty laid back from what I've seen. They're just walking around," she said.
A Boston Police spokeswoman said she had no information on any citations being handed out at the rally, and a patrol officer at the scene said officers were giving out verbal warnings to smokers "unless they blow smoke right in my face."